Edited by Ed Wallace / Publisher at UtahStandardNews.com / February 15, 2018
Keep My Voice (KMV) was launched in 2013 by local Utah citizens concerned with Count My Vote’s (CMV) flawed initiative to eliminate the caucus system, and the subsequent unconstitutional Utah Senate Bill 54 passed at the state legislature. KMV is working to protect voters’ constitutional rights with their Freedom of Association ballot initiative.
States, such as California, that have implemented a direct primary election system, are among the worst managed states in the nation. In contrast, Utah is one of the best-managed states thanks to a proven process that keeps elected leaders accountable and close to the people.
KMV believes that changing Utah’s election process to a direct primary, already unsuccessfully tried in Utah (1937-1947), would lead to elections favoring big money, big name candidates, and remove local control. The current election system has a balanced vetting process that includes neighborhood caucus meetings, nominating conventions and primary elections, with an alternative independent path to the ballot and a general election. This system allows anyone to directly participate in the democratic process and levels the playing field for candidates running for office.
Prior to CMV, a signature gathering process had been in place for independent or unaffiliated candidates to participate in general elections. CMV changes that process to allow candidates going the signature route, to self-identify for whatever party they want, and removes the right for a political party to produce their own candidates. For instance, Bernie Sanders could declare himself a as Republican or Constitutionalist and the party would be forced to accept and run him as the Republican nominee if he primaried and won. Mitt Romney could declare as a Democrat.
The Caucus-Convention System, which Utah has used since 1896, vets candidates so much more thoroughly than the mainstream media and populace in general, and allows brilliant people who have no money or name recognition to wage effective campaigns. Were it not for this system, Mia Love, Sean Reyes, Gary Herbert, Mike Lee, Rob Bishop, and Jason Chaffetz would have never had a chance.
Big-money politicians hate the caucus system because they are held accountable, and can’t buy their way into office. The media hates it because they don’t make as much money off of political campaigns, so they are mischaracterizing the supporters of the Caucus-Convention system as right-wing nuts. The richest politicians in the State are raising millions to destroy the Caucus System under the misnomer “Count My Vote”.
If you’ve ever been to a caucus, you’ll know that it is attended by earnest and trustworthy neighbors who want to come together to learn, teach, debate and improve their communities. You won’t find crazed, right-wing extremists. You’ll find neighbors who are actively engaged in doing their civic duty and participating in the political process.
Neighbors meet together at local caucus meetings to elect their county and state delegates by consensus. There are more than 30,000 unpaid, politically aware, volunteer delegates across Utah serving their communities for the Republican, Democrat and Constitution parties.
Candidates answer tough questions posed by delegates to explain their views and positions on issues. Delegates are generally knowledgeable about politics and can get down to the nitty-gritty of the issues that an average voter may not dig up. They put in countless hours attending meetings and events to understand what candidates are saying during election, and insure they are keeping their promises while in office. Politicians can’t hide their past mistakes and wrongdoing because delegates are staying alert and reminding them of campaign promises.
If CMV 2.0 passes, Utah’s media outlets will make a killing on primary campaign advertising. One political consultant stated “So much of this [CMV] has always been about lining the pockets of the consultant class. As a former (and sometimes current) member of the political consulting class, I can tell you that primaries are money makers for “campaign professionals”, and that mostly means media/ad buys.”
CMV began as “Alliance for Good Government” and was started by the owners of the Exoro Group, a strategy and consulting firm that represents many of Utah’s established politicians. When Bob Bennett lost in 2010, perhaps Exoro saw the writing on the wall and knew that the political climate, and their bottom line, was changing. From 2011 to present, CMV and Alliance for Good Government has raised and spent $1,848,291.95. Of that amount, 73% ($1,345,493.43) has gone directly to the Exoro Group. 4 of 5 founding members of AGG were/are principles of the Exoro Group. See Utah.gov – financial disclosures
If we are to benefit from the wisdom of the founders, we must be better educated within our own ranks regarding the principles they endorsed. The founders took measures to steer clear of democracy and explained why. The Caucus system was put in place to keep representation as close to the people as possible while ensuring that campaigns are focused on intelligent debate rather than financial clout.
When Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention, someone asked him “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” Franklin replied “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The question right now for all Utahns is whether we will do what it takes to keep our Republic?
If the problem is ignorance then let’s fix it. If the problem is contempt then let’s expose it. The comparison is simple: Either we believe in our capacity for self-government or we abandon our principles as Americans and let the few wealthy control our elections.
Keep My Voice is a non-partisan, non-profit group that advocates for Utah’s caucus-convention election system.
Freedom is Always Worth Fighting For–The Virtues of the Utah Caucus System 1 hour talk by Phill Wright
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